The Moving Mountains Project story
When the same thing happens to you twice in life, it's sometimes something worth listening to.
Peru. A remote valley in the Cordillera Huayhuash, and I'm talking with the guide and friend walking with me through these astounding mountainscapes. "You should bring some walkers to us here. Let us show them this place. Let them see how we live here. Share our mountains, our culture."
Nepal. Nangi Village, Annapurna region. This time it's the village elder speaking. "Just spend time here. Go for a walk. Look around. Maybe you'll see something you can do."
Those two little seeds had landed in fertile ground. Since well before my time at Durham (Hild & Bede, 1995-1999), I had been into the outdoors: I'd grown up in South Africa and hiked the bush there often. Next, I'd lived in Scotland where I roamed a new kind of mountain landscape. At Durham I had been in the Mountaineering Club and joined walking and climbing trips. I'd studied languages - Russian, German and Spanish - and my third year overseas had taken me to Siberia where I fell in with an outdoor crowd with whom I climbed, rafted, cross country skied, and undertook ambitious multi-week hikes in summer. After university my heart had taken me to Australia's island state, Tasmania, where I discovered an outdoors perfect for biking, hiking and sea kayaking and trail running.
The Moving Mountains Project was the name that came to me on an icy morning run on Mount Wellington in mid-winter Tasmania. I'd set the project up to do just what my Peruvian and Nepali friends suggested. We'd take small groups on walking journeys through remote mountain regions in Peru and Nepal, we'd do village homestays and experience the culture far more deeply than most tourists, and we'd go walking not just for our own benefit. With careful management, we could offer not only unforgettable trekking trips, but provide significant financial support for villagers' own development projects in the areas we visited. The Moving Mountains Project could be a win/win setup for everyone involved. And it was going to be fun!
What people experience on both The Moving Mountains Project walks is more than a hike - it's a course in full mountain immersion. We stay in villages, in villagers' homes where possible - we eat with them and we laugh with them. We stay over in villages instead of simply passing through, so there's a chance to interact and make real connections with real people. The people who guide us on the ground are also born and bred in the areas we visit: the best authorities to show us the areas they know and love.
In Nepal we are fortunate to work with an active village development committee whose long term project - amongst many other already successful projects in an area covering 13 villages is to build a further education college so that students who complete the school they have now developed can complete their education by getting vocational skills and even computer training. Funds from The Moving Mountains Project will substantially contribute to this and other projects in Nepal in the coming years. In Peru, we have close connections in the poor mountain villages surrounding the Cordillera Huayhuash. Here funds from our walks cater for more basic needs: books in one school, a photocopier in another, and in the long term, establishing computer labs in the schools. With two or three trips a year, we hope to be a long term background source of funding for young people's education on both these remote mountain regions.
So tomorrow it's off to the villages. Backpack packed and a steep all-day climb with huge views of snow shrouded Annapurna as a reward. There will be friends to greet in the villages and many Namastes to say.
From a seed of an idea this project has grown enough to start to move mountains.
In 2009, the Moving Mountains Project is walking in Nepal in March and April and in Peru in July and August.
Gabi Mocatta was at the College of St Hild & St Bede, 1995–1999, where she studied Modern European Languages.